David Benavidez was once the youngest 168-pound world champion in history, but the unbeaten, 6-foot-2 switch-hitting 24-year-old has twice forfeited the crown — once due to a positive drug test and again for missing weight.
Now a father of a one-year-old son, Benavidez [24-0, 21 KOs] insists he’s matured in pursuit of his fifth straight knockout on November 13 against Kyrone Davis [16-2-1, 6 KOs] before his hometown crowd at the Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona in a Premier Boxing Champions event on Showtime [10 p.m. ET].
The undercard features Benavidez’s 29-year-old brother Jose Jr. [27-1, 18 KOs] ending a 37-month ring absence in his 154-pound debut against Francisco Emanuel Torres [17-3, 5 KOs]. Jose Jr. lost his last fight in August 2018 by 12th-round TKO to three-division and WBO 147-pound champion Terence Crawford [37-0, 28 KOs].
“I have a son, Anthony, who is a year and two months old. Fatherhood is a new experience and a new journey,” said Benavidez of a child who was “big like his Dad” weighing eight pounds at birth.
“I enjoy seeing him learn every day. It’s a blessing. Being a father and having a son who is looking up to me adds more motivation to go into the gym and work that much harder to take care of him.”
Nicknamed “El Roja” [Red Flag], Benavidez spoke exclusively on Saturday night from his training camp with his father and cornerman, Jose Sr., at Brick House Boxing in Los Angeles.
“David is looking very strong right now,” said Jose Sr. “He’s gotten stronger with each fight and matures more and more. He’s just getting his man strength, so everyone will see something spectacular on Nov. 13.”
Benavidez had moments earlier watched Mexican rival Canelo Alvarez [57–1–2, 39 KOs] score a two-knockdown, 11th-round KO of previously unbeaten Caleb Plant [21–1, 12 KOs] in a 168-pound unification bout, adding “Sweethands” IBF crown to his WBA/WBC/WBO versions to become the first fully unified super middleweight champion and the first fighter of Mexican descent to accomplish the feat.
“El Roja” craves an all-Mexican championship clash with Alvarez, who plans to return against an opponent to be determined in May 2022 during the Cinco de Mayo Mexican holiday weekend.
“Why not,” said Alvarez in advance of hammering Plant. “It would be a great fight with David Benavidez. I just want to make the fights that people want to see.”
The Benavidez-Davis bout is an IBF and WBC title eliminator that could grant the winner a shot at the winner of the Alvarez-Plant match.
“Canelo looked great and congratulations to him for the victory, but I feel like if anyone is going to get Canelo first, it’s gonna be me. Canelo Alvarez has great power, but with my power, reach and jab, I can hurt Canelo at any time. An all-Mexican fight between Canelo and I is one that Canelo needs to make happen for the fans,” Benavidez said.
“My jab is a big key, I’m a good body shot artist and I have more speed than Caleb Plant, who has a shoulder-roll and good defense but he got hit a lot. I’m in the best head space, best condition, mentally and physically. But first I have to take care of my business against Kyron Davis, and then, whether it’s next year or in three years, I’m not going anywhere.”
In Davis, 27, of Monmouth, N.J., Benavidez faces a fighter who is 3-0-1 [1 KO] in his past four bouts. Davis’ past two fights were a draw with former champion Anthony Dirrell in February and a unanimous decision over Martez McGregor in September.
“Kyrone Davis has never been stopped, so my objective is to look for the knockout. But I won’t go in there reckless with big, heavy punches looking for one shot,” Benavidez said.
“I’m punching strong, looking sharp, and feeling great, mentally and physically, so the plan is to go in there and not only stop this guy, but to look spectacular doing it.”
Benavidez’s sparring partners have included unbeaten former WBO 168-pound champion Gilberto Ramirez [42-0, 28 KOs], a nearly 6-foot-3 southpaw now campaigning at 175 pounds, and two-time title challenger Gabriel Rosado, who has been knocked out by former titleholder Gennady Golovkin and suffered unanimous decision losses to current and former 160-pound champions Jermall Charlo and Daniel Jacobs.
“My goal is to look impressive by stopping Kryone Davis somewhere between rounds five and nine. We have some great sparring partners and I tell every one of them that I am who I am and I don’t come to play because I want it to be clear to everyone watching me that, without a doubt, I won that fight,” Benavidez said.
“I don’t really lose rounds in my fights. Every time somebody steps into the ring with me they know they have to be on their A-game. We’re working very hard, and I’m very excited, very motivated and ready to go and to look sensational for my fans back at home.”
A 13-year-old Benavidez stood 5-foot-4 and weighed 250 pounds when Jose Sr. mandated that he lose weight or not box at all.
Before making his pro debut in August 2013 at the age of 16 with a first-round KO of Erasmo Mendoza in Sonora, Mexico, Benavidez worked out with Gennady Golovkin at the then-160-pound world champion’s camp in Big Bear, California.
Benavidez not only made an impression on Golovkin, but also during sparring sessions as a 15-year-old with former champions Kelly Pavlik and Peter Quillin before beginning his professional ascent.
Benavidez was 7-0 [7 KOs] before his 18th birthday while fighting entirely in Mexico, where the legal fighting age is 15. Benavidez debuted on U.S. soil in his hometown of Phoenix with a six-round shutout of Azamat Umarzoda in December 2014 three days after turning 18.
Benavidez was 11-0 with 10 KOs when veteran boxing manager Luis DeCubas Jr. began working with Benavidez’s promoter, Sampson Lewkowicz, to help advance the fighter’s career.
As a 20-year-old in September 2017, Benavidez’s split decision over Ronald Gavril earned the WBC’s 168-pound title, making him the youngest world champion in division history and the sport’s youngest titleholder at the time.
Benavidez overcame an injured middle left knuckle and a final-round knockdown to end Gavril’s seven-fight winning streak [five by KO], later winning their return bout by unanimous decision in February 2018.
“For Gavril to believe he beat me in the first fight made it difficult to walk away without a rematch,” Benavidez said. “I put a beating on him in the second fight and don’t think I lost a round.”
The split-decision victory over Gavril ended Benavidez’s knockout streak at 10 and at 17 in his previous 18 victories, including 13 in two rounds or less. The two fights with Gavril followed Benavidez’s three-knockdown eighth-round TKO of former title challenger Rogelio Medina in May 2017.
“Fighting Gavril improved my focus on training. Now, the actual fights are the easy part and the training that’s difficult,” Benavidez said.
”I dedicate myself to go hard for two or three months, running seven miles and doing 13 rounds daily so I can be more relaxed going into the fight and do what I do best, which is to dominate.”
Benavidez had been stripped of his WBC crown in October 2018, declared “Champion in recess,” and suspended for six months following a positive drug test for Benzoylecgonine [the main metabolite of cocaine].
The WBC made its decision at its convention, also ordering Anthony Dirrell into a vacant title fight against Avni Yildirim, whom he defeated by technical decision in February 2019.
Benavidez ended his ring absence with a second-round knockout of J’Leon Love in March 2019 before regaining the WBC crown that September with a ninth-round knockout of Dirrell, who was stopped for the first time in his career.
“Being young and inexperienced, I made mistakes,” Benavidez said. “But this is the second half of my career and I’ve matured as a man and a father. Still, I use my past as a lesson not to do those things again.”
An overweight Benavidez lost that title on the scales in advance of a 10th-round knockout of Roamer Alexis Angulo [August 2020] before scoring an 11th-round TKO over Ronald Ellis in his last fight in March.
“The one thing I’ve always done is take care of business inside of the ring,” said Benavidez. “I’m hungrier than ever and ready to touch the sky.”
Source: Lem Satterfield